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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nerdy Birdy: Hummy Huntington Gardens

I went back to the Huntington Gardens today because I found something very special yesterday and I did not have the people or the liberty of time to spend time with it like I wanted. On the way into the gardens yesterday I heard the chirp of a hummingbird and since I am now so sensitive to bird sounds I searched until I found it perched at the end of a branch. At first I thought it was eating honey from a bees nest, it seemed to be pecking this round ball of wood. It was only when I stepped a bit closer, the hummingbird flew off and out popped two tiny heads.

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I was ASTOUNDED for one because I had never seen a hummingbird nest before but also because I have never taken photos of a full nest period.

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I only waited about five minutes hoping that the mamma bird would come back before I felt the people with me get a bit restless. Birding takes a lot of time and patience; the people with me were not interested. Taking one last shot I walked away reasoning that I could come again tomorrow, alone and wait all day if I needed.

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Addendum: My mother made a good point, not many people know just how TINY a little hummingbird nest is. My shots only make it look large because I am using my telephoto lens. I could not climb up there for a comparison so I found this shot to show you just how tiny it is.

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PHOTO CREDIT

Ms. Dancer and I returned today and camped out a short distance away. Of course the nest and the baby birds were still there and they were a lot livelier today than yesterday. I even caught this cute shot of one sticking his tongue out.

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We sat and waited, the mother returned to the nest often (about every half hour) but she only stayed for moments before zipping off again.

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So, we stayed and waited longer; every time I heard her zipping in I would jump up camera in hand to grab the two or three shots I could. I kept watching and repositioning myself hoping to get that perfect shot.

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After about an hour and a half we decided to take a break from the nest and head into the actual gardens. Maybe because I was more in-tune with the hummingbirds I kept seeing them everywhere so I spent some time taking photos of some adults perching and singing their hearts out.

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And then I got this bird, who let me get SO CLOSE.

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But I got a little bored with this. I have gotten to the point where taking photos of stationary birds is almost too easy so I moved onto trying to get bird photos where I get a subject, the right lighting, get the focus right and photo it but move onto REALLY paying attention to the background. A good shot can be ruined by not looking past the subject. I love the twisted branches and blue and green bokeh behind this bird.

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But when I found this hummingbird amid a tree of yellow I was in HEAVEN.

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Since the flowers were in full bloom we headed to a cluster that I had seen a few adult hummingbirds eating from. I really wanted to take my bird photography and challenge myself which meant ATTEMPTING to get a shot of a hummingbird sipping nectar out of a flower. If you have EVER seen how fast a hummingbird can move then you know that these buggers are FAST and trying to get a photo in focus was a nightmare of technical difficulties.

I took over 350 shots of hummingbirds and most of them ended up looking like a big blurry mess or a game like where’s Waldo. However I was tenacious (350 shots and two hours tenacious) and after several trials and errors I finally started to get the hang of it.

I managed to get one shot, ONE GLORIOUS amazing fabulous shot and I could not be happier.

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It makes my heart sing with joy

To put icing on my double decker chocolate cake of a high was on the way out of the park where I stopped at the nest and within 20 minutes managed to get the awesome shots I have been waiting for.

Mama bird landed…

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She greeted her babies…

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And then she fed… and I got the shot of the nest WITH the mother that I had been hoping for.

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It happened in a little less than 30 seconds and I swear I held my breath the entire time. God I love this hobby, when you get a day like today it is super rewarding.

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

I've never seen a hummingbird nest before either! You really got some great shots -your patience and persistency really paid off!

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